George Donnelly’s second half goal secured an important point for Dale against fellow promotion hopefuls Burton Albion at Spotland on Tuesday night.
The Brewers opened the scoring shortly after the interval, but Donnelly’s 66th minute effort earned Dale a well deserved draw in what was a hard fought encounter.
There was one change for the match – Peter Vincenti replaced Jamie Allen, who dropped to the bench.
Weather conditions were massively improved compared to of late and it was a perfect night for football, with the wind at a minimum and no rain failing at all at Spotland.
The Brewers had the first half chance of the match following a set piece, and while the free-kick, which Ian Sharps got on the end of, tested Josh Lillis, the off-side flag was raised by the linesman.
Four minutes later, Scott Hogan had Dale’s first opportunity of the game as he forced Rob Lainton into a save at his near post.
Matthew Lund released Hogan down the left hand side of play and after cutting inside, he fired a shot on the angle, which was turned round the post by the legs of the ‘keeper.
As the game continued, both teams battled to get a foot hold on the game in what was a physical and stop/start encounter.
Dale had been up against it after what can only be described as spoiling tactics from the Brewers, and while Rochdale continued in their pursuit of playing effective and attractive football in order to carve an opening, they were dealt a blow when the visitors took the lead shortly after the half hour mark.
A corner ball was whipped into the area and met by the head of Sharps. Lillis punched the initial effort clear, but only as far as Zeli Ismail, who fired a shot in at the near post and beyond the ‘keeper.
GOAL: ROCHDALE 0-1 BURTON ALBION (ISMALI, 33 mins)
The goal didn’t de-rail Dale and they continued in a positive manner as they looked for an equaliser.
And the 39th minute Ian Henderson was denied by Lainton.
Rose floated a free-kick into a packed area, and Hendo glanced a header goal wards, which was saved by the ‘keeper on the line.
HT: Rochdale 0-1 Burton Albion
There were no personnel changes for Dale at the interval, however Manager Keith opted for a switch in formation as they went from a 4-1-4-1 set-up to a 4-2-3-1.
Rochdale approached the second half as they had done in the first, but each attack forward was re-buffed by the Brewers as they remained resilient in defence.
The first substitution followed in ten minutes after the re-start as George Donnelly replaced Jason Kennedy.
Dale began to stretch the play, keeping the visitors penned in their own half for spells, and during a spell on top, had a penalty shout turned down.
Henderson went to ground inside the area in the 58th minute, but the referee was quick to say no.
And in the 66th minute Dale got their just rewards as substitute Donnelly levelled the scoring.
Donnelly thumped a volley in on goal and despite Lainton initially getting his hands to the shot, he spilled the ball back-wards and into his own net.
GOAL: Rochdale 1-1 Burton Albion (Donnelly, 66 mins)
Rochdale were in the ascendancy after the goal and Burton Albion were again unable to get out of their own half for large spells as Dale launched wave after wave of attack on the Brewers.
With visitors remaining defensively solid, Rochdale were being forced to be patient, and in the 81st minute Donnelly blasted a powerful effort over the bar.
Dale’s second substitution of the match followed as Vincenti made way for Reece Gray.
Rochdale continue in search of a winner and in the 89th minute Lainton tipped a Hogan header from a Rose free-kick, which looked destined to dip in under the bar, over the top.
In stoppage time, the visitors enjoyed a rare sight on goal, but Billy Kee’s effort was well saved by Lillis.
And in the fifth minute of five additional minutes, Lillis pulled off an important save as he tipped an Alex MacDonald free-kick from distance over the bar.
It finished Rochdale 1, Burton Albion.